Woman Daley, Henrietta Jessie Shaw (Jessie) (1890 - 1943)

17 May 1890
Malvern East, Victoria, Australia
10 November 1943
Mosman, New South Wales, Australia
Community worker
Alternative Names
  • Obbinson, Henrietta Jessie Shaw (Jessie) (Maiden)

Written by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University

Jessie Daley was born in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern in 1890, the second daughter of real estate agent Thomas Obbinson and his wife Rosa. Educated at private ladies colleges she studied science at the University of Melbourne before marrying public servant, Charles Daley in 1917. Five children were born to the marriage. Moving with her husband to Canberra in 1926, Daley took her role as wife of the city's Civic Commissioner seriously, and quickly became involved in community building activities, taking a leadership role in a range of artistic, community and sporting associations. On her death she was acclaimed as 'an outstanding figure in a comparatively small band of women imbued with purpose and displaying a capacity for organisation that was instrumental in many of our public bodies coming into being' (Canberra Times, 11 November 1943).

During the 1930s Daley was president and district commissioner of the Girl Guides Association, vice-president and later president of the Canberra Mothercraft Society, a position she relinquished in 1935 after conflict over her dismissal of the infant welfare sister. She was also vice-president of the local branch of the YWCA and a member of its national board, and using this as her base in the YWCA she founded a branch of the National Council of Women in the ACT in 1939 and was its inaugural president.

As a hostess and organiser she played an important fund-raising role for the organisations with which she was associated. She was a woman of spirit, and fiercely resisted attempts to remove the no 1 numberplate accorded to the family car during the early years of Canberra, in defiance of public servants who argued that the Prime Minister should have that honour (Courier-Mail , 28 August 1933).

Daley died in 1943. A room at the Canberra YWCA was named in her honour (Canberra Times, 18 August 1944).

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